Thursday, January 10, 2008

Nokia N95 8GB Spiderman Edition Review

Somehow Nokia and Home Theater Forum joined forces to get a bunch of HTFers early access to a version of the N95 CameraPhone that bundles in 8GB of internal storage (you can add more if you like!), including a pre-loaded version of the Spiderman3 movie. I jumped at the chance to take a look at this, so here's the Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of what I found.

First the Ugly. Nokia shipped the phone to me without a sim card, and I'm a Verizon Mobile customer, so I had no way of getting this phone on my network, and I wasnt about to go do a 2 year signup for this review. It was my understanding when I requested this that it would be ready to roll out of the box, I was mistaken and that is my fault alone. So, this review will be a bit short as I can only really talk about the ergonomics of the unit, the camera, the menus and stuff like that, without talking about it as a PHONE.

Which brings us to the GOOD. This lightweight little champ is an awesome camera, regardless of its other features. You can check this Flick group for an idea on what it is capable of:
Flickr N95 UG
N95 Photos

Frankly, it's the most feature rich camera I have ever seen integrated into a phone, and it even includes a dinky little flash that works better than its size would indicate. 5 Megapixels is right around the sweet spot for this size camera, you get plenty of detail without squeezing so many pixels in that you up the noise to hell. It'll also take short videos if you are into that kind of thing, and apparently has decent GPS and web integration too, tho I didn't get to play with those either.

Also in the 'good' category is the video quality. Video is billed as DVD quality and I'll go along with that, the included Spiderman3 was a bit hard to find but once I got it set up right it looked about as good as it did on my PSP and almost as good as video does on my iPod Touch, and if you know how much I dig the iTouch you will know that's a compliment. Again you are comparing a 2.8" QVA screen to the PSP or Itouch tho, so it's apples and oranges, but it looks better than any other Cell Phone I've used. It's a shame I didnt have a carrier for this, cause I'd really love to test out the Flickr Integration, perhaps sometime in the future.

Which brings us to the bad. While totally subjective, I HATED the menu system of this unit, and found the 'double slider' way too complex to use and that the buttons that needed to be pressed to get through this crazy menu didnt always match up on screen. Perhaps a lot of that is alleviated when integrated with a carrier, I don't know, but out of the box it's baffling, but pretty. If the menu system is your biggest complaint about a $700 piece of technology, you are probably doing pretty well, as you probably learn the tricks and get used to it begrudgingly but quickly.

Here's the bottom line: I think this is an awesome camera but as a whole the device doesn't add up for me personally. First, and most importantly, I'm probably not in the market for something this costly any time soon. I'd shoot myself if I lost a phone this expensive and I treat my phones badly, I'm not sure how something this slcik looking would hold up to my pockets. Also, I personally don't mind carrying multiple devices that do their jobs very well so 'multimedia convergence' isn't a target market I'd likely be in. Convergence, especially when it combines photos and movies as well as the N95 does, is definitely the future, but I'm content to wait for these to come to my carrier and at a price that doesn't mimic the full cost for all 3 separate devices. For now, I'm perfectly fine with toting around a cheapy cell phone, an awesome iPod and a 5 pound brick of an SLR, but I'm unusual that way.

Here are other resources if you are interested in this unit:

Also, Nokia was 'nice' enough to include one of these guys for me to use during the review:

If you ever see me out of the house wearing one of these, please kick me in the shins with golf cleats! =)

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